Smt. Maheshwari Nagarajan (Amma)
I’ve been fortunate to learn from Smt. Maheshwari Nagarajan (Amma) and Sri. Nagarajan sir (Sir) at Darpana Academy of Performing Arts since I was very young, and now at Nritya Kala Kendra. I feel so lucky to be able to learn from them even now, after all these years.
There are many things Amma has taught me from dance to choreography (e.g. keep things simple, don’t over-complicate choreography), attention to detail in the way of wearing a sari, lifting feet in class practice or in a performance. From the way my sari was ironed, to its pleats, Amma talks about simplicity and clarity in movement and choreography, and respect for the craft above all.
In this manner, the communication of science is not that different from the communication of a story in Bharatanatyam, as we are following a story line, looking for a systematic narrative structure, and looking for clarity. Amma does not like to intellectualize dance (“get up and dance!”) and is forever patient. She encourages her students to do more, explore more, teach, and most of all, strive for excellence, not perfection. She emphasizes sustained interest over time rather than a quick burst of attention.
In addition to time spent learning dance and mythology with her, there are so many occasions of eating food (jackfruit papads!), preparing food, and talking about stories.
My name is Sloka. I am a neuroscientist and Bharatanatyam dancer; you can find more about me here.